Skip to main content

Full text of "Comets and the rise of modern science : an exhibition, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, May 1-November 1, 1986"

See other formats

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


An Exhibition 

Special Collections 

Harold B. Lee Library 

Brigham Young University 

May 1 -November 1, 1986 




Appreciation is expressed to Randy Richards, 

Scott Duvall, Leona Rostenberg, Jonathan Hill, 

and Ivan Volkoff for the research and text of 

this publication 

Cover design by 
Rebecca Dawn Stone 

Edited by 
A. Dean Larsen 


With the return of Halley's comet, 1986 has been a year of anticipation 
and excitement. Newspapers and magazines have printed stories, 
books and pamphlets have been issued, and the home telescope industry is 
booming. Even T-shirts have been made to advertise the comet's return. All 
around the world, people are aware of when Halley's comet will be visible. 
Planetariums and observatories sponsor special productions and viewings. 
With wide-eyes and anticipation, much of the world has been focusing their 
telescopes and turning their heads skyward to catch a glimpse of this heavenly 

Before such heavenly visions could be predicted, however, men attempted 
to explain them through logic, superstition, and even religion. Some felt that 
stars were merely lights within the earth's atmosphere. Others, with a 
broader perspective, envisioned the heavens as distant yet discoverable. This 
enlightened vision inspired the great astronomers to peer into the cosmos and 
seek to understand the unknown. Although at times this search for knowl- 
edge seemed futile, the heavens were exciting and, often, frightening. 

This excitement, wonder, and discovery is well documented within the 
Harold B. Lee Library. The strongest collection in the history of science at the 
Library is the Astronomy Collection. BYU's library can boast such rare works 
as the original holograph manuscript, Catalogiis Stellarum Fixarum, the 
"Catalog of Stars" compiled by the prominent Danzig astronomer Johannes 
Hevelius (161 1-1687) and added to the library as its millionth volume in 
1971, (Exhibit Item No. 1). 

Johannes Hevelius, as well as other well-known astronomers of his day, 
such as Edmond Halley ( 1656- 1742), Robert Hooke ( 1635-1703), Sir Isaac 
Newton (1642- 1727), Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), and others endeavored to 
understand their universe. In so doing, they arrived at some of the great 
astronomical truths. For these astronomers, the mysteries of such wonders as 
the fiery comets intrigued and inspired them to study the heavens in search of 
plausible explanations for such heavenly manifestations. 

At one time a comet was thought to be the harbinger or even the cause of 
some natural event, usually a disaster, such as a war, a famine, or the death of 
a king. In 1680, for example, a bright, rapidly moving comet was observed 

TheComet and the Dart 

The Armies in the Air : I The Three Suns feen : 

Illustration from Christopher Ness, The Signs of the Times, showing the popular fears concerning comet appearances 
Kxhibit Item No. 28. 

from November 14 to December 5. It then became invisible because of its 
nearness to the sun, but it reappeared about two weeks later. 

This particular comet of 1680 caused consternation and worry among the 
general population. References are made to this comet in many publications 
of the time. Christopher Ness (1621-1705), a seventeenth-century theolo- 
gian, wrote extensively about the 1680 comet in his book, The Signs of the 
Times or. Wonderful Signs of Wonderful Times. Being a Faithful Collection and 
Impartial Relation of Several Signs and Wonders. Call'd Properly Prodigies . . . 
Which Have Been Seen in the Heavens ( 168 1), (Exhibit Item No. 28). An excerpt 
is reprinted here as an example of the hysteria involved with the sighting of 
such a comet: 

The Fiery Dart . . . is the second Phanomenon or Apparition, which the great 
God shewed to poor man as a Sign from Heaven, seeing none shew on Earth 
will convince us. it being with us as it was with those Christ-Tempters in the 
Gospel. (Luke 11:16) They must have a Sign from Heaven over and above all 
those mighty and matchless Miracles that Christ wrought amongst them upon 
Earth; They must have the Messiah to Thunder from Heaven upon them, as 
Samuel had done upon their Forefathers (I Samuel 12:16. 17 ) to convince 
them of their Sin (in asking a King) and to bring them to Repentance. . . . 
Thus the Lord . . . gives us not only the Word to Hear, but also Signs to see. 
and that one Sign upon another . . . Therefore did God send a second sign (the 
Bolts or Fiery Dart) immediately after the first, (to wit. the Comet) as a Seal 
annexed to it. in its direful prospects and prognosticks. This Fiery Lance or 
Dart . . . signifies Drought, and portends War. 

The third Dreadful . . . Apparition in the Air. was on Dec. 17. 1680 at 
Ottery nigh Exeter, near 5 at night, then appeared two great Armies, the one 
out of the North. . . . the other out of the South, seeming furiously to joy n 
Battle. . . . This Account came from a Reverend Minister who (with many 
others) was an Eyewitness of it. while viewing the Amazing Comet, as 
published in Print. 

The foregoing excerpt illustrates common seventeenth-century attitudes 
toward comet appearances. Many other explanations arose as well. The shapes 
of comets inspired such metaphorical visions as flowing celestial beards, 
swords, long hair, and even trumpets. Andreas Celishius, a Lutheran Bishop 
of Magdeburg, felt that a comet was "the thick smoke of human sins, rising 

every day, every hour, every moment, full of stench and horror before the face 
of God, and becoming gradually so thick as to form a comet, with curled and 
plaited tresses, which is at last kindled by the hot and fiery anger of the 
Supreme Heavenly Judge. " David Hume, the seventeenth-century Scottish 
philosopher, postulated another explanation. He described comets as the 
sperm of the planetary reproductive system. Planets, he believed, were 
formed by a sort of celestial reproduction. 

More intellectual conclusions arose when men such as the Danish as- 
tronomer Tycho Brahe (1546—1601) and the German astronomer Michael 
Mastlin (1550-1631) began the scientific study of comets. Mastlin, for 
example, demonstrated that the comet of 1577 was further away from the 
earth than the moon. This was a major breakthrough in astronomical study 
because many people still held to Aristotle's notion that comets were located 
in the earth's upper atmosphere. 

Another view of comet appearances is found in the works of Pierre Bayle 
(1647—1706), a brilliant historian and philosopher. Bayle enjoyed taking 
two opposing points of view and proving them both to be improbable. In 
1681, he was named to the Chair of History and Philosophy at Rotterdam. 
Shortly before he assumed his new position, the comet of 1680 spread fear 
throughout Europe. He thus composed his first important work, Miscella- 
neous Reflections, Occasion d by the Comet Which Appear' d in December 16)80 
(1708), (Exhibit Items No. 29 and 30). 

Bayle used the comet of 1680 as a platform from which to explode popular 
superstitions and fears. In the preface to the 1708 English translation of 
Bayle's work, he explains his reason for writing the book: 

/ was Philosophy professor in Sedan when the Comet appear' d in December, 
1680 and found myself eternally teas' d with Questions about it. proceeding 
from People's Curiosity or their Fears. I did all I cou'd to recover those who 
were disturb' d at this pretended ill Presage, but gain'd very little on 'em by 
mere Philosophical Reasons; still they answer' d that God certainly expos' d 
these awakening Phenomena on purpose to give Sinners time to prevent by 
Repentance the Evils which hung over their Heads. Upon this I thought it in 
vain talking any longer, unless 1 cou'd offer an Argument to prove, that the 
Divine Attributes will not allow Comets being design' d to such an end. 

This is all the Advertisement I intended in this place: but because the Printer 

desires I would fill up this Page, I shall make one Observation, which to me 
seems proper for confuting the vulgar Error concerning Comets. 

The War of europe from 1688 to 1697 was one of the fiercest and most 
destructive that has bin known. Yet no Comet appear d either a little before it 
broke out, or for all the time it lasted; but on the contrary, in Sept. 1698 a 
Comet was seen, when Europe was just deliver' d from the War, and a Peace on 
the point of being concluded the Christians and the Turks. So that here's a 
Comet betwixt two Treaty s of Peace, which have put an end to War in all 
parts of Europe, and chang'd the Face of Publick Affairs very much for the 
better; a Comet that brings back the happy time in which the Temple of Janus 
is shut up. 

Bayle's attitude demonstrates that the advancement of science was in large 
part a function of the educated elite, because as far as the general population 
was concerned, a comet portended death and destruction. Yet, little by little, 
over the course of the next 200 years, the seventeenth-century revolution of 
thought filtered down to the common man. Scientific explanations of the 
material world were disseminated in part through the establishment of the 
scientific societies of the seventeenth century. The Royal Society of London 
was one such scientific society. 

"The business and design of the Royal Society, " wrote astronomer Robert Hooke 
in 1663, "is to improve the knowledge of natural things, and all useful Arts, 
Manufactures , Mechanik practices . . . . To examine all systems, theories, principles, 
hypotheses, elements, histories, and experiments of things natural , mathematical, and 
mechanical, invented, recorded, or practiced, by any considerable author, ancient or 
modern. " 

The members of the Royal Society of London examined the world around 
them and printed their findings in the Society's monthly publication, The 
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. This publication, first 
issued in 1665 and still being published today, served to inform the scientific 
community of the results of examining the natural world. 

One of the noteworthy foreign astronomers who belonged to the Royal 
Society of London and whose works on comets and other astronomical topics 
are found in the Harold B. Lee Library is Johannes Hevelius. Hevelius was 
born in 16 1 1 to a prosperous Danzig family. Although his father desired him 
to enter the world of business, Johannes demonstrated a strong interest in the 

x/fiuic yu/tum J&y£SJVS i (t<GXVS,icdra 7terit- 
L-onfcia couejft c upeu/u/w Kjiaera Ills nte 
Grande micat'Jtitrttc vJtauj <k *.V/i\rt Otic 

GtJunt Jet Ptfr Ttfiu f 

Johannes Hevelius in later years. The portrait seems to have appeared first in the second part of Machinae Coelestis in 
1679, the year of the observatory fire. 

study of astronomy. Enjoying an early grand tour of the European continent, 
Hevelius met some of the most eminent astronomers of his day, including 
Marin Mersenne (1588- 1648), Pierre Gassendi ( 1592- 1655), and Athana- 
sius Kircher (1601-1680). Intrigued by their discussions and planetary 
observations, Johannes Hevelius returned home more determined than ever 
to devote his life's work to astronomy. 

Hevelius constructed a splendid observatory in Danzig from which he 
nightly studied the heavens, using instruments that he had created himself. 
During the day he recorded his nocturnal observations with remarkable 
exactness. The precision of Hevelius's observations led to the publication of 
his intricately detailed lunar research and engravings of the moon's surface, 
published in his first book Selenographia( 1647), (Exhibit Item No. 3). Owing 
to this and subsequent publications, the reputation of Johannes Hevelius 
grew and in 1664 he was admitted to the Royal Society of London as a 

Robert Hooke was another member of the Royal Society. He was Hev- 
elius's junior by 24 years. A man of many talents, Hooke was deeply 
interested in astronomy. As a young man, he had, at the suggestion of Dr. 
Seth Ward, began an intense study in the field of astronomy, and invented 
several astronomical instruments with which he could make observations on 
land and sea. These instruments Hooke later demonstrated to the Royal 
Society. Hooke was the first scientist to observe the rotation of Jupiter, and in 
one of his Cutlerian Lectures he presented his observations of the Comets of 
1664, 1665, and 1667. 

His enthusiasm for cometography is expressed in a Diary entry of April 2 1 , 

"Rose early, saw the new comet neer the base of the try angle in a right line with 
the star in the right foot of Andromeda and the star in the hart of Cassiopeia. 
Its blaze extended more than half way towards star of the right foot of 
Andromeda but tended or pointed at the star in the nose of Cassiopeiae. " 

Through the Royal Society, Hooke and Hevelius became long distance, 
professional acquaintances. Although the English scientist and the Danzig 
astronomer disagreed about matters of theory, they cultivated each other's 
mutual respect. Hevelius considered Hooke's telescopic observations of 
Jupiter and Mars quite remarkable. Hooke, in turn, highly praised Hevelius 

for the books he published and the research he performed. Indeed, Hevelius 
printed many books and sold them in England through the help of Henry 
Oldenburg, Secretary of the Royal Society. Among those works were Prodro- 
mus Cometicus ( 1665) and Cometographia ( 1668), two of Hevelius's major works 
on comets, (Exhibit Items No. 4 and 5). 

Although Hevelius's hypotheses of the physical composition of comets do 
not agree with modern theories, he appears to have been the first astronomer 
to calculate parabolic and elliptic orbits for comets circling the sun. In 
addition, he determined the best positions of comets which were observable 
in his time. 

His "Cometographia, totam naturam cometarum . . . hypothesos exhibens" pub- 
lished at Danzig in 1668 (Exhibit Item No. 4), which had been almost fifteen 
years in preparation, contains on page 659 the critical sentence, written long 
before Newton's gravitational theories became known: "Plane in ea sum 
sentential universos cometas in linea conica et quidem parabolica moveri. " 

Hevelius, it seems, theorized the existence of parabolic and elliptic orbits 
before Halley. Halley's contribution was to successfully apply Hevelius's 
theory in calculating the parabolic and elliptic orbits of the Comets of 1652, 
1661, 1664, 1665, and 1672. Even as late as the beginning of the 19th 
century, the German astronomer Johann Franz Encke used the data obtained 
by Hevelius and subsequently by Flamsteed, Newton and Cassini in recalcu- 
lating the orbit of the Comet of 1680. 

For some unexplained reason, priority for the discovery of a parabolic orbit 
for comets came to be associated for almost 200 years with Georg Samuel 
Dorfel, astronomer and deacon at Plauen, Saxony, and a former student of 
Hevelius. Dorfel had calculated the proper orbits of comets based on the 
appearance of the Comet of 1680, supported the parabolic orbit theory and 
supplied some scientific proof for it. He published his findings in 168 1 under 
the title Astronomische Betrachtungen des grossen Cometen. . . . But he called his 
own discovery merely a "newly-invented corollary of Hevelius's hypothesis" 
("einen neuerfundenen Zusatz der Hevelianischen Hypotbeseos "). 

There is little doubt, then, that Johannes Hevelius was the first to suggest 
parabolic orbits for comets, but Dorfel's accomplishment of supplying some 
scientific proof for the shared hypothesis requires equal praise. 

As Hevelius continued his work he published the first volume of Machinae 

Coelestis in 1673, in which he "explained his preference for plain sights over 
the new telescopic sights." This work also includes a detailed description of 
Hevelius's observatory and a description of his instruments. Hooke, who 
advocated the use of the new telescopic method, was incensed at Hevelius's 
viewpoint and quickly published a rebuttal to Machinae Coelestis which he 
entitled Animadversions on the First Part of the Machinae Coelestis (1674), 
(Exhibit Item No. 33). In this work, Hooke claimed that "telescopic sights could 
be made that would be sixty times more accurate than the plain sights used by 
Hevelius. " Needless to say, Hevelius took offense at this strident attack on 
his research. 

Although Hevelius and Hooke had corresponded for some time, and were 
both members of the Royal Society, this difference of opinion caused fiery 
indignation between the two astronomers. Surprisingly, Hooke's feelings 
were not shared by most of his contemporaries, but he was respected enough 
as a scientist that his accusations began to harm the reputation of the Danzig 

As the heated dispute became more public, the embarrassment to the 
Royal Society increased until the Society, under the leadership of John 
Flamsteed(l646-17 19), decided to take action. The Royal Society requested 
that Edmond Halley ( 1656-1742), Flamsteed's assistant, travel to Danzig to 
make some comparative observations with Hevelius. Halley planned to use 
the telescopic methods with which he had become accustomed while working 
in 1675 and 1676 in St. Helena, an English possession located in the South 
Atlantic. Hevelius would use the plain-sighted methods that he preferred. 

By late May 1679, when the twenty-two year old Edmond Halley arrived 
in Danzig, Hevelius's Catalog of Fixed Stars 9 , to which he had alluded to in 
Machinae Coelestis, was nearing completion. During his research, Hevelius 
had carefully recorded his data, his calculations, and star positions in the 
catalog. Halley deemed it a privilege to view the Catalog (Exhibit Item No. 1) 
and to compare his sightings with those recorded therein. 

On the very night that Halley arrived in Danzig, it is said that he and 
Hevelius climbed to Hevelius's observatory, which had been built atop the 
roofs of three houses, and began their comparative observations. After 
moving Hevelius's instruments around and finding that the measured dis- 
tances were consistent, differing perhaps only by negligible minutes of one 

Edmundus Mallei us r.s.s. 

» T<ifyvft/>mitJ &ntaif/<* r/ {/e<>//tr/r//r t^ro/cAfcr , /rrrf/mttt/^. 

Portrait frontispiece from Edmond Halley, Astronomi dum viveret refit tabulae astronomicae. Exhibit Item No. 11. 


degree, Halley compared these measurements with those of his own, acquired 

by the use of telescopic sights. To Halley's probable surprise, and to the 

satisfaction of Hevelius. the results were basically identical. 

As weeks passed, Halley was increasingly impressed by the accuracy of 

Johannes Hevelius's instruments and the measurements that the Danzig 

astronomer had recorded while using them. In a letter sent to England, and 

read by Kooke to the Royal Society on June 5, 16 7 9. Halley reported "that he 

found the instruments of Johannes Heielius very extraordinary, all with common 

sights: that he had seen Heielius make observations of the distance of two fixed stars: 

and that the instruments were capable of making measurements to half a minute of arc. 

while he [Halley] was not able to do this closer than a minute. " ' With this 

approbation, along with subsequent letters and statements from Halley. 

(including a written testimony of his experiences which Halley left to 

Hevelius upon his departure on July 18, 1679), Hevelius felt that he had 

been vindicated from the harsh words of Robert Hooke. 

As an interesting sidelight, it is noteworthy to relate the tragedy that beset 

Hevelius only a lew weeks alter Halley's departure. On September 26, 1679, 

a fire destroyed Hevelius's observatory, including most of his instruments, 

books, and other manuscripts while he was away from home, relaxing in the 

country. Fortunately, Hevelius's prized "Star Catalog" was saved from the 

flames. Hevelius's thirteen-year-old daughter, Kathanna, who was home at 

the time, presumably had the foresight to save the catalog as well as other 

important manuscripts. Although it was severe, this setback did not stop 

Johannes He\elius. With the help of King Louis XIV of France, the new king 

of Poland, Jan II Sobieski, and others. Hevelius rebuilt his observatory, 

acquired the necessary instruments, and continued his work. 

In the meantime, Edmond Halley returned to London and prepared to 
further his education, as was common at the time, by commencing a tour of 
the continent. On December 1, 1680, Halley left London with his good 
rriend Robert Nelson ( 1656— 1715), and journeyed to France. While travel- 
ling, Halley viewed the Comet or 1680. This experience activated an interest 
in comets that he would later develop. 

In 168-4, Halley accepted a salaried position as a clerk to the Royal Society. 
While working in this capacity, Halley edited the Philosophical Transactions 
and wrote several articles himself which appeared therein. During the 1690s 
and early POO's, Halley began his famous studies of cometary astronomy. 


In his paper, Astronomiae Comet icae Synopsis (1705), Halley calculated the 
elliptic trajectories of a number of comets. It turned out that the pathways of 
three of the orbits were almost identical and that the years in which these 
apparitions were sighted were separated by nearly equal intervals. Halley 
thus postulated that the comet recorded in 1531 was the same comet which 
had appeared in 1607 and the same viewed by himself in 1682, and possibly 
the same comet which occurred in 1456. This logical sequence inspired 
Halley's theory that in 1758, the same comet would reappear. The comet did 
return as predicted, sixteen years following Halley's death. Thus, "Halley's 
Comet" received its name, and Edmond Halley would never be forgotten. 

As illustrated by this exhibit, Europeans began to publish accounts of 
comet appearances in the sixteenth century. In the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries, discoveries such as those made by members of the Royal Society 
charted the progress in the science of astronomy. In the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries, mathematical knowledge gradually improved, and, 
with it, the ability to calculate comet orbital patterns increased. 

Since this time, Newton and Halley's theories of elliptic and parabolic 
orbits have been reinforced. Astronomers such as Charles Messier 
(1730-1817) of France, Anders Johan Lexell (1740-1784) from Finland, 
Karl Friedrich Gauss (1777—1855) from Germany, and Johann Encke 
(1791-1865), a pupil of Gauss's, all identified comets and worked exten- 
sively on their orbital patterns, making significant discoveries and naming 
several new apparitions. 

In the second part of the nineteenth century, with the help of visual 
spectroscopic observations, the physical structure and composition of comets 
underwent closer scrutiny. Bright bands were seen and identified as having 
characteristic emissions of carbon, cyanogen, and weaker substances. 

In the twentieth century, with the help of photographic methods, observa- 
tions were made that helped scientists label various specific elements of a 
comet. Astronomers today believe that a comet's nucleus is similar to a large, 
dirty snowball. Simply stated, "there probably is a matrix of ice and other 
compounds of elements such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. Within the 
matrix are dispersed grains or chunks containing such heavier elements as sodium, 
calcium, iron, and nickel. " 2 The tail, or coma, of the comet is formed as the 
comet approaches the sun and the sun's radiation causes some of the icy 
substance to become gaseous. These gases then expand away from the sun and 


the reflected light from the sun causes the appearance of the comet that is seen 
by astronomers and novices alike. 

The exhibit in the Harold B. Lee Library presents many important 
sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European works on astronomy, including 
many on comets. The exhibit displays original works by famous astronomers 
including Hevelius, Hooke, Halley, and many others. It also shows the 
works of theologians, philosophers, and literary personalities who com- 
mented on the apparition of comets during this period of time. In short, the 
Special Collections' exhibit, entitled, "Comets and the Rise of Modern 
Science," displays both the awe of man as he viewed the appearance of a "fiery 
dart from heaven," as well as his reasonings about the mysterious cosmos 


Christopher Ness, The Signs of the Times (London: Langley Curtiss on Ludgate-Hill, 168 1). pp. -1 1-2. 44. 
"Andreas Celichius. Theological Reminder of the New Comet, quoted in Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Random 
House, 1980), p. 78. 

'Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Random House, 1980), p. 79. 

'Pierre Bayle. Miscellaneous Reflections. Occasston'd by the Comet Which Appear 'd in December 1680 (London: Printed 
forj. Morphew near Stationers-Hall. POS) pp. v-vi, xi-xii. Translated from the original French edition of 1680. 

Stephen F. Mason. History of the Sciences (New York: MacMillan & Co., 1970), p. 259. 

Henry W. Robinson and Walter Adams, ed.. The Diary of Robert Hooke 1 6 72—1 MO (London: Taylor & Francis, 
1935), p. 286. 

Ivan Volkoff, et al., Johannes Heveltus and His Catalog of Stars (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 
1971), p. 36. 

In addition to the original manuscript of Hevelius's Catalogus Stellarum Tixarum. the Library also possesses the 
posthumously published edition of this work. This edition was published as part ot Prodromal Astronomiae in 1690. 
but since the title page of the Catalog is dated 1687, it is suggested that the work may have been ready to publish in 
the year of Hevelius's death. 
"Volkoff. opcit.,p. 42. 

In a letter to King Louis XIV of France. Hevelius wrote, "Saved by God's Mercy were . . . Kepler's immortal Works, 
which I purchased from his Son. my Catalogue of the Stars . my Seu and Improved celestial Globe, and the thirteen Volumes of my 
Correspondence with learned Men and the Crowned Head of all luinds. " Johannes Hevelius had purchased the complete 
manuscript legacy ot Johannes Kepler (157 1—1630) from the heirs of the astronomer's son Ludwig, shortly atter 
Ludwig's death. Although Hevelius planned to publish the manuscripts, he never did so. The manuscripts are now 
in the USSR Academy ot Sciences Archives, Leningrad. More information concerning the Kepler manuscripts can be 
found in M. Caspar's Kepler (London and New York, 1959), pp. 365-367. 

The Encyclopedia Americana. International ed. , s.v. "Comet.'' 



Equipment used by Hevelius with a telescope to project the image of the sun onto a sheet of paper. This arrangement 
was used in his classic observation of the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the sun on May 3, 1661. 



1. Johannes Hevelius, 1611-1687 

[Catalogus Stellarum Fixarum] Handschrift des Sterncatalogs/ des Hev- 
elius I vom ihm selbst geschrieben. Catalogus Fixarum AD Annum 
1660. 1660-1681. 

The holograph manuscript of Johannes Hevelius's Catalogus Stellarum Fixarum, the 
Fixed-Star Catalog, was acquired in 197 1 as the B.Y.U. Library's millionth volume. 
The manuscript is the only surviving major work of the Danzig astronomer in his own 
handwriting. The manuscript, begun in 164 1 , contains the results of many thousands 
of observations and calculations of the positions of the fixed stars. It was the last and 
finest of the star catalogs prepared solely from naked-eye observations. To prepare his 
star catalog, Hevelius used more than a dozen different quadrants, sextants, and 
octants for his measurements. The catalog is arranged so that the constellations follow 
one another in alphabetical order; individual stars in each constellation are listed 
according to their magnitude, with the brightest stars appearing first. Each pair of 
leaves typically contains twelve columns. 

Johannes Hevelius, 1611—1687 

Prodromus Astronomiae, Exhibens Fundamenta, quae tarn ad novum plane I 
correct io-rem Stellarum Fixarum Catalogum construendum , quam ad omnium 
Planetarum Tabulas corrigendas omni-mode spectant. Gedani: Johannis- 
Zachariae Stollii, 1690. 

As shown on the title page, the Prodromus Astronomiae combines the posthumously 
published works of Hevelius, Catalogus Stellarum and Firmamentum Soaesaanum, into 
one volume. It includes commentaries on a number of astronomical topics. It pre- 
sumably is a fragment of a projected manual or textbook on spherical astronomy, the 
completion of which was interrupted by the Danzig fire of 1679. Essentially the 
Prodromus contains the fundamental technology and methodology associated with the 
production of the Catalogus Stellarum, the Fixed Star Catalog. 


3. Johannes Hevelius, 1611-1687 

Selenographia: sive. Lunae Descriptio; at que Accurata, Tarn Macularum Ejus, 
quam motuum diversorum, Aliarumque omnium vicissitudinum P bus i unique, 
telescopii ope deprehensarum , del i neat io. Gedani, 1647. 

After five years of exhausting research, Johannes Hevelius published his Selenographia . 
This masterpiece of engraving and printing is in part a series of drawings of the phases 
of the moon, over a period of one month, showing how the details on its surface varies 
from day to day. What Hevelius observed at night he immediately engraved in copper 
the following morning. At the time of publication, praise for the book came from all of 
Europe. Hevelius's lunar maps remained the principal source for lunar research for 
more than 100 years. Many of the lunar features named by Hevelius are still in use 

4. Johannes Hevelius, 1611-1687 

Cometographia, Totam Naturam Cometarum . Gedani: Imprimebat Simon 
Reiniger, 1668. 

This book is one of Hevelius's major works, and required almost fifteen years of 
preparation. The first part gives the observational data on the Comet of 1652, the next 
two parts attempt to prove the existence of comets far beyond the atmosphere of the 
earth. The fourth part gives a detailed account of the actual parallax of the Comet of 
1652, while the fifth part deals with the true position of the comet and its distance 
from the earth. The subsequent parts are concerned with the tail of the comet, its size 
and its structure. A description of the comets of 1661, 1664, and 1665 is followed by 
a complete listing of about 400 comets known from ancient times to 1665. 

5. Johannes Hevelius, 1611-1687 

Epistola, de Cometa: Anno M DC LXXll. Gedani: Imprimebat Simon 
Reiniger, 1672. 

This publication describes a comet which appeared in March and April 1672. It was 
published as a letter addressed to Henry Oldenburg, Secretary of the Royal Society of 
London. Hevelius observed this comet from his Danzig observatory from March 6 until 
April 21, 1672. 


6. Johannes Hevelius, 1611-1687 

Annus Climactericus. Gedani: Typis Dav.-Frid. Rheth., 1685. 

Annus Climactericus is essentially an appendix to Hevelius's Machinal Coe/estts Pars 
Posterior, containing observations made between L679 and 1685. The title was derived 
from the circumstance that the work was published in the forty-ninth year ot Hev- 
elius's career as an astronomical observer. A major part ot the work, which is the last to 
have been published in Hevelius's lifetime, is devoted to a refutation ot Hooke's attack 
on the former's usage of plain sights in the measurement of fixed-star distances. 

7. Christian Huygens, 1629-1695 

S) sterna Satirniim. Site De cans is mirandorum Satvrni Phaenomenon. tt 
Comiteejus Planeta Novo. Hague: Ex Typographia Adriani Vlaco, 1659. 

Christian Huygens, a Dutch mathematician, physicist, and astronomer, is credited 
with the discovery ot a satellite of Saturn and a ring ot Saturn. He was instrumental in 
the manufacture of powerful telescopes and described the micrometer for use in 
telescopes. He developed the wave theory of light, first enunciated in 16~8. He was 
elected as a Fellow ot the Royal Society ot London in 1663. The work displayed here 
was published when Huygens was 50 years old. It relates his important research and 
discoveries concerning the planet Saturn. 

8. Stanislaw Lubieniecki, 1623-16~75 

T heat rum Comet icum: duabus parti bus cons tans, quorum altera frequent i 
Senatu philosophic*) conspicua. cometas anni 766-/. & 1665. Vol. I. Amstelo- 
dami: typis Danielis Baccamude, Apud Franciscum Cuperum, bibliopo- 
lam, Anno 1668. 

Stanislaw Lubieniecki, born in Cracow in 1623, was one of the leaders of the Socinian 
religious sect in Poland during the seventeenth century. His great work on comets, 
published in 1668, is displayed. The work is divided into two parts. The first part 
otters, in 59 plates, details of the Comet of 1664. Theatrum Cometicum was reprinted in 
168 1 as a result ot the tamous Comet ot 1680. 




9. Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630 

Tabulae Rudolphinac . quivus astronomicae scientiae. temporum longinquitate 
collapsae restauratio continetur; A Phoenice Mo Astronomorum Tychone. Ulm: 
Jonae Saurii, 1627. 

Born in Weil der Stack, Germany, Johannes Kepler became the assistant to Tycho 
Brahe in 1600 at Brahes observatory near Prague. Before Brahe died on October 24, 
1601, he urged Kepler to complete the proposed Rudolphme Tables of planetary 
motion. Within two days Kepler received the appointment to Tycho's post as Imperial 
Mathematician and Astronomer to the Court of Rudolph II of Bohemia from whence 
the Rudolpbine Tables received its name. When Rudolph II was forced to abdicate. 
Kepler left the observatory and moved to Linz. In 1626 he moved to Ulm and finally 
published the Rudolpbine Tables in 1627. The Tables contain perpetual tables for 
calculating the positions of planets for any date in the past or future. The volume 
contains 120 pages of text and 1 19 pages of tables. Besides planetary, solar, and lunar 
tables, (and associated tables of logarithms), it includes Tycho Brahe's catalog of 1 .000 
fixed stars, a chronological synopsis, and a list of geographical positions. 

10. Jean-Baptiste Joseph Delambre, 1749-1822 
Elips des Cometes. 

Born into an impoverished family, the Frenchman Delambre worked hard to earn a 
scholarship to the College du Plessis in Paris. He showed great interest in astronomy 
and, at the suggestion of the celebrated astronomer, Joseph Jerome Lalande. the 
Rec,eveur Generale de Finances built an observatory especially for him. The work 
exhibited here is an autograph manuscript which contains detailed calculations with 
comments and neatly drawn tables concerning the elliptical nature of a comet's orbit. 
In this unpublished manuscript, Delambre focuses part of his attention on Halley's 
Comet, which he describes as the most celebrated and interesting of all comets. 
Delambre himself was only 10 years old when the comet appeared, and he died some 13 
years before it reappeared, so he probably never actually saw the comet. The incredible 
detail of the calculations involved in this paper, however, shows his dedication to 
achieve absolute accuracy in his astronomical work. 


11. EdmondHalley, 1656-1743 

Edmundi HallaiilAstronomi dum viveretlregiil tabulae! astronomicae. Acce- 
dunt/de usu tabularum praedepta Londini/Apud Gulielmum Innys, 

At the age of 22 Edmond Halley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. 
At that time he became the assistant to John Flamsteed, the Astronomer Royal. Halley 
enjoyed a long career as an astronomer, eventually succeeding Flamsteed as As- 
tronomer Royal. Although Halley is best known for his computations of the motion of 
comets and establishing their periodicity in elliptic orbits, his astronomical contribu- 
tions were not confined to comets. He made notable advances in the determination of 
the distance of the sun, in positional and navigational astronomy, and in general stellar 
astronomy. Halley's achievements in stellar astronomy were of considerable signifi- 
cance, although they were not as fully appreciated in his day as might have been 
expected. The work in the exhibit was posthumously published and summarized 
Halley's astronomical research. 

12. EdmondHalley, 1656-1743 

"On The Visible Conjunctions of the inferior Planets with the Sun." In 
The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Vol . 17, 1 69 1 . 

The Royal Society of London was organized in 1660. One of its purposes was to 
examine and improve the knowledge of all natural things. The members of the Royal 
Society published their observations in a monthly publication entitled The Philosophical 
Transactions of the Royal Society of London. This periodical is still being published today. 
From 1685 to 1693, Halley edited The Philosophical Transactions with outstanding 
competence at a formative time in the journal's development. In this capacity he also 
contributed many articles himself which dealt with the subject of astronomy. The 
article displayed here, for instance, dealt with the conjunctions of the interior planets 
with the sun. 

13. John Flamsteed, 1646-1719 

Atlas Celeste de Flamsteed, Approuve par I'Academie Roy ale des Sciences, et 
publie sous le privilege de cette cotnpagnie. A Paris, Chez F. G. Deschamps, 
Libraire, rue S. Jacques, aux Associes, 1726. 


On March 4, 1675, Charles II King of England installed John Flamsteed as the first 
Astronomer Royal. At age 29 the pattern of Flamsteed's professional life was essen- 
tially established. In 1676 Flamsteed inaugurated the observations which culminated 
in his catalog of 3000 stars. The work displayed is a French translation of this catalog. 
Between 1676 and 1689 Flamsteed made about 20,000 observations. These observa- 
tions constitute an improvement over Tycho Brahe's work. There can be little doubt 
that Flamsteed's reputation rests on his observational work. 

14. John Flamsteed, 1646-1719 

The description and uses of an Instrument for finding ye true places of ye Sun & 
Jupitor with the Eclipses of 4 's {i.e. Jupiter's} Satellites and their configurations 
at all times by John Flamsteed. [Greenwich, 1685} 

This unpublished manuscript in Flamsteed's own hand describes an astronomical 
calculating instrument. It is especially valuable in light of the knowledge we have of 
Flamsteed's constant quest for accurate equipment. These ideals of accuracy and 
completeness were the basis of the controversy and bitterness which later arose between 
Flamsteed, Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley. Newton and Halley felt that Flamsteed 
was unnecessarily dilatory in the publication of his observations. Flamsteed, for his 
part, did not feel his work was ready for publication. Thus, when Newton and Halley 
took steps to publish an unauthorized printing of Flamsteed's work in 1712, a long 
simmering professional feud came to the boiling point. The last 30 years of Flamsteed's 
correspondence is infused with vituperous remarks about Edmond Halley, the man 
who succeeded him as "Astronomer Royal." 

15. Pierre Gassendi, 1592-1655 

Tychonis Brahei, equitis Dani astronomorum coryphaei, vita. Hagae- 
Comitvm: Ex Typographia Adriani Vlaco, 1655. 

Pierre Gassendi, French philosopher and savant, wrote on many subjects. In an age 
which counted Galileo, Kepler, Bacon, Hobbes, and Descartes among its philoso- 
phers, the name of Gassendi was held in the highest regard. Gassendi advocated the 
empirical method in science. He attacked and opposed Aristotelian and Cartesian 
philosophy. Gassendi's influence on science was more philosophical than technical and 
more critical than systematic. Part of his life's work included "The Lives of the 
Astronomers." The work displayed is a biography of Tycho Brahe, the great Danish 
astronomer, and Kepler's mentor. 


16. TychoBrahe. 1546-1601 

Tychonts Brake astronomiae instauratae mechanica. Noribergae: Apud Lev- 
invm Hvlsivm, 1602. 

In 1576, Tycho Brahe. a Danish astronomer, established an astronomical observatory 
on the island of Hven, off the coast of Denmark. In 1599 he studied in Bohemia with 
Johann Kepler as his assistant. Brahe rejected the Copernican system, discovered a new 
star in Cassiopeia, corrected the values of many astronomical quantities and recorded 
the positions of numerous stars and planets. His research inspired Johannes Hevelius to 
continue the work of recording stars. Much of Brahe's research was published by 
Kepler in the Rudolphine Tables. The work displayed here describes Brahe's life, 
discoveries, instruments, etc. 

17. Alessandro Marchetti, 1633—1714 

Delia natira delle comete: lettera scritta all' illistriss. sig. Francesco Redi da 
Alessandro Marchetti: si premettono per jondamento dell' opera molte osseriazioni 
intorno alia cometa dell' anno 1 680. e 1681 : e nel fine se ne aggiungono alcun ' 
altre introno a quella del 1682. In Firenze: Alia Condotta, 1684. 

Alessandro Marchetti, born in 1633 in Pontormo, Italy, was an Italian literary figure, 
famous for his translation of Lucretius. While studying in Pisa, Marchetti attended 
lectures given by Galileo and Borelli. Consequently, he harbored a life-long interest in 
the sciences. Although he is best known for his literary career, Marchetti also taught 
mathematics in Pisa and wrote on astronomy. The book displayed is one such work in 
which he described the nature of the Comet of 1680. 

18. Cyprianus Leovitius, d. 1574 

Eclipsivm omnivm ab anno domini 1554. Augsburg: Philippvs Vlhardvs, 

In this rare and handsome book Leowitz calculated the eclipses of the sun and moon 
between 1554 and 1606. Leowitz (1524-74), was court mathematician and as- 
tronomer to the Elector Ottheinnch, who was noted for his scholarly and artistic 
interest. This book begins with an illustrated description of the comet of 1556. The 
calculations which Leowitz prepared were computed for the meridian of Augsburg, but 
they were done so as to be easily transposed to any other meridian. 


T A B V L M 


rum losginquttatecoUapfc Rest aurat 10 continent)', 

A Phoeniceillo Aftronomorum 


Ex ll/ujln &• CJenero/a TSnAHiOKUMtn Regno Dam* 

fdmiliioriunJo Bjttittj, 



QUO sinHIKr»!Uorn,etOK!TlluriCSF NOVUM E F I U t S I T ■ S £ R i A AFTF-CTATA; VARI1$» 

que openbus. cum nieehanins , turn librarm , impcnlo patrimonii) amnliflimo . accede nnbus ctiam lubli Jus F R !• 

himciIIDami, rcgalitt!agnificcn[i.idignis, traclapcranno«XX Vpotiffimiiminlnfula 

fret i S u n d i c i H u e n s a , & jt ce U R * si e u i: i o , i n hoi Bill) i fun- 


^(omen "\udoiphi Imp. annoJMDIIC. 






Jervationum r e lift arum ; adextmplum ferrpartium jam trflruiltrum . ctntiniiis mult Drum annnrumfpr. 
tuiatitnibm , (f ctmputatitnibm , pnmum P * a g & ' bohtmorutm ontinu.ivit ; deinde Li yet /> 
Superhrii Auflrit Metropoli, fmbjidiii etiam IS. Proviniialiumadjutm, perfecit, ab- 
folvit ; adj : caufarum ($ ulcultpereniir for mu lam traduxit. 


Ttchon i pnmum a T{u dolph o II Imp adjuitBus calculi mmifter; tndeq\ 
Trwm or dine Imppp. Sriatkemattcus : 

Qui idem dc Ipcciali ni.inJ.iro F f R n i s A s Di 1 1. I M r. 
pctennbus in/lanubusq; i l.crcdibuJ, 

Opus hoc adufusprtfenttum t£ poflerttatis, t^pis, numericisprtprits, ctteris, tjprtclt 

Jos & Sauk 1 1, Retp. Z'lmaru T> : ographt, m publicum extultt, t4 

Typographies opens 'Lima, curator affmt. 

Cum Privilcgiis, I m p. & RegumRerumq; publ. vivoTtchoni ejwqs Haeredibus , 

iX fpcculi Imptratono, ipfi Ke plfro conccflb, ad AnnosXXX. 
Anno M. D C, XXvTT 

Title page from Kepler's Rudolphine Tables. Exhibit Item No. 9. 


19. SethWard, 1617-1689 

De Cometh: V 'bi De Cometarum natura disseritur. Oxoniae: Excudebat Leon 
Lichfield Academiae Typographies. 1653- 

Seth Ward, Bishop of Salisbury, was the early English astronomer who advised Robert 
Hooke to apply himself particularly to the study of astronomy. Ward was a professor of 
Astronomy at Oxford from 1649 to 1661. He was an early proponent of the theory of 
planetary motion. The work displayed here is one of Ward's works on comets. 

20. Robert Hooke, 1635-1703 

An attempt to prove the motion of the earth from observations made by Robert 
Hooke ... — London: Printed by T. R. for John Martyn printer to the 
Royal Society, at the Bell in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1674. 

At the time of his arrival at Oxford University in 1663, Robert Hooke was able to 
associate with a brilliant group of men which included John Wilkins, Seth Ward, John 
Wallis, Christopher Wren, and Robert Boyle. A man of many talents, Robert Hooke 
as a young man had begun an intensive study of astronomy. He invented many 
astronomical instruments with which to make observations. This 1674 publication 
details some of Hooke's observations about the earth's movement in space. 

21. Robert Hooke, 1635-1703 

Lectures and collections made by Robert Hooke. Secretary of the Royal Society. 
London: Printed for J. Martyn, printer to the Royal Society at the Bell in 
St. Paul's Church-yard. 1678. 

Robert Hooke, the first astronomer to observe the rotation of Jupiter, also had a keen 
enthusiasm for cometography. Part of this 1678 publication contains Hooke's observa- 
tions of a comet which appeared in April, 1677. It also contains Sir Christopher Wren's 
hypothesis and geometrical problems concerning the comets of 1664 and 1665. 

22. Robert Hooke, 1635-1703 

Philosophical Experiments and Observations of the late Eminent Dr. Robert 
Hooke, S.R.S. and Geom. Prof. Gresh. and Other Eminent Virtuoso's in his 
Time. London: Printed by W. and J. Innys, Printers to the Royal 
Society, at the West End of St. Paul's, 1726. 


Robert Hooke was the man who first saw clearly the elements of orbital dynamics 
accepted today. In response to Isaac Newton's assumption of uniform gravity, Hooke 
stated his conviction that gravity decreases in power in proportion to the square of the 
distance. Hooke was always convinced thereafter that Newton had stolen the inverse 
square relation from him. The posthumous publication displayed here summarizes 
Hooke's experiments and observations. It was published by the Royal Society of 

23. Athanasius Kircher, 1602-1680 

Iter Extatkum Coeleste. Quo Mundi opificium. id est. Coelestis Expansi, 
siderumq. Herbipoli: Sumptibusjoh. Andr. &Wolffg. Jun. Endrerorum 
haeredibus, 1660. 

Athanasius Kircher was a true child of the Renaissance. He spread his net of learning 
over such diverse fields as music, geology, biology, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and 
astronomy. In his astronomical works, one of which is displayed here, Kircher 
supported the geocentric view of the universe as opposed to the Copernican, heliocen- 
tric view. Kircher based his theory not only on Catholic doctrine but also, like many 
Renaissance philosophers, on the ancient writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. 

24. Francesco Bianchini, 1662-1729 

Hesperi et phosphori nova phaenomena sive observat tones circa planetam Veneris. 
Romae: Apud Joannem Mariam Salvioni Typographum Vaticanum in 
Archigymnasio Sapientiae, 1728. 

Bianchini, an Italian astronomer, was appointed by Pope Clement XI to serve as 
Secretary ol the Commission for Reforming the Calendar. Bianchini was the first to 
observe the spots on the planet Venus. He asserted that Venus rotates every 24 'A days. 
The 1728 work displayed here presents Bianchini's research. 

25. Stanislaw Lubieniecki, 1623-1675 

Tbeatrum comet icum: duabus partibus cons tans, quarum altera frequent i Senatu 
philosopbico conspkua. comet as anni 1664. & 1663. Vol. II. Amstelodami: 
Apud Franciscum Cuperum, 1668. 


In Vol II of Lubieniecki's work, (See Exhibit No. 8 for a description of Volume I) the 
Polish astronomer gives the details of 415 comets known to have appeared since the 
biblical Flood until 1664, of which 50 appeared before the Christian era. The author 
took care to list the events which occurred after the appearance of each comet to prove- 
that comet apparitions portended no evil whatsoever. 

26. Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630 

Astronomia Nova aitiologetos: sev Physica coelestis. tradita commentariis de 
motibts stellae Martis. ex observatiombus G. V. Tychonis Brahe Heidelberg: 
G. Voegelinus, 1609. 

Johannes Kepler is remembered today chiefly for his three laws of planetary motion. 
He announced the first two in his Astronomia Nova, on exhibit here. In chapter 58 of 
this work Kepler stated: "With reasoning derived from physical principles agreeing uith 
experience, there is no figure left for the orbit of the plamt except a perfect ellipse. " Kepler had 
thus arrived at what is now called his first law. that the planetary orbits are ellipses 
with the sun at one point. Kepler's second law is referred to as his "distance law.'' It 
states that the orbital velocity of a planet is inversely proportional to its distance from 
the sun. As he formulated his revolutionary theories, Kepler justifiably called his book 
"The New Astronomy." For information on Kepler's third law, see entry number 45. 

27. Johannes Kepler, 15 7 1-1630 

De Stella Nova in Pede Serpentarii , et qui sub ejus exortum de novo iniit, 

Tngono Igneo. Prague: Ex Officina Calcographica Pauli Sessii, 1606. 

Of the various astrological matters on which Rudolph II of Bohemia sought Kepler's 
opinion, the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 1603 was particularly remark- 
able. Such conjunctions occur every twenty years; only comets were considered more 
ominous. Excitement reached a peak in October 1604, when a brilliant new star 
unexpectedly appeared within a few degrees of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. Kepler's 
extensive collection of observations on the new star appeared in De Stella Nova. Early 
chapters describe the nova's appearance, astrological significance, and possible origin. 
Noting that a similar star appeared in 5 B.C. Kepler drew an analogy between the nova 
of 1604 and thestarof the Magi. He thus argued for 5 B.C. as the date of Christ's birth. 




Of); i si $ 3«£r$/ 
©armttcft fettte erfcgemtmg 6n6 Jmiff/fcmc 

tyfot fc>on frer crtwi ttnfranccr* CarauS folgcntc fa$<tf 

tur$ Aflronomifctc rrcfcnuna &flrg«(fyiiv»nb feint tcftctl* 
tun^m fttr$ s?&$rft#cmiti$mafltm5S<fwfr 

SJ<fc$rf<* nt ten 

M. PETRO CRiiGERO, fttofgl. &M 

£nmj i;jf Ma thcma tic©. 




©mucf t vnt> %aU$i Our* 3*»rcam ^ftnef<roc/ 

Title page from Peter Kruger, Lranodromus Cnmeticus Exhibit Item No. 51. 


28. Christopher Ness, 1621-1705 

The Signs of the Times. Or, Wonderful Signs of Wonderful Times. Being A 
Faithful Collection and Impartial Relation of several Signs and Wonders, call'd 
properly Prodigies, {together with some Philosophical and Theological Descants 
upon them) which have been seen in the Heavens, on the Earth, and on the 
Waters, as they have been Testifyed by very Credible Hands. All which have 
hapned{!) within the compass of this last Year 1 680. Which may well be called 
another Annus Mirabilis, or Wonderful Year, wherein the Lord hath given us 
loud Warnings to Repent of our Sins and Return to him, that he may have Mercy 
upon us. London: Printed for the Author. And Published by Langley 
Curtiss, on Ludgate-Hill. 1681. 

Christopher Ness, a seventeenth-century English theologian, wrote extensively about 
the Comet of 1680. He wrote: "The Fiery Dart . . . is the second Phanomenon or Appari- 
tion, which the great God shewed to poor man as a Sign from Heaven. " "This Fiery Dart. " he 
continued, "signifies Drought, and portends War." This work accurately portrays the 
popular attitude toward comet appearances. 

29. Pierre Bayle, 1647-1706 

Pensees Diverses, Ecrites a un Docteur de Sorbonne , A I' occasion de la Comet e qui 
parut au mois de Decembre 1680. A Rotterdam: Chez Reinier Leers, 1704. 

Pierre Bayle, a penetrating thinker and critic of his time, wrote his Pensees Diverses, or 
Miscellaneous Reflections, as a reaction to the popular fears and superstitions which 
surrounded the appearance of the Comet of 1680. He wrote that God did not send 
comets to prompt sinners to repent of the "Evils which hung over their Heads. " "Divine 
Attributes. " Bayle wrote, "will not allow Comets being design' d to such an end. " Two editions 
are displayed here, one in French, and a 1708 English translation. 
(See Exhibit Item No. 30) 


30. Pierre Bayle, 1647-1706 

Miscellaneous Reflections, Occasion 'd by the Comet Which appear' d In December 
1680. Cheifly tending to explode Popular Superstitions. Written to a Doctor of 
theSorbon. By Mr. Bayle. Translated from the French. To which is added. The 
Author's Life. London: Printed for J. Morphew near Stationers-Hall, 

This is the 1708 English translation of Pierre Bayle's Pensees Dh'erses. 
(See Exhibit Item No. 29) 

31. Peter Kruger, 1580-1639 

Uranodromus Cometicus. Ein aussfuhrlicher Tractat Vom grossen Cometen dess 
1618 Jahrs. Dantzigk: Gedruckt vnd Verlegt durch Andream Hune- 
feldt, 1619. 

Peter Kruger was the gifted mathematics teacher of the young Johannes Hevelius. 
Kruger was also a consummate astronomer. As Johannes achieved a good understand- 
ing of planetary astronomy and solar and lunar eclipses, he began to help Kruger in his 
astronomical work. Had it not been for Peter Kruger's efforts, Johannes Hevelius 
might never have made such lasting contributions to astronomy. In the work displayed 
Kruger describes his observations of the Comet of 1618. 

32. Johannes Baptist Cysarus, 1586—1657 

Mathemata astronomica, de loco. motv. magnitvdine, et cars is comet ae qvi svb 
finem anni 1618: et initivm anni 1619. in coelo fvlsit. Ingolstadt: Ex 
Typographeo Ederiano, 16 19- 

This work, by the Italian astronomer Johannes Baptist Cysarus, studies the relation- 
ship of the Comet of 16 18 with that of the earth, sun, and the constellations. It is one 
of eight works on comets which are bound together into one volume. The work 
displayed is of particular interest because the manuscript annotations which can be seen 
throughout the work were written by Peter Kruger, the teacher of Johannes Hevelius. 
This volume once was in Kruger's library. 


33. Robert Hooke, 1635-1703 

Animadversions on the first part of the Machinae Coelestis of. . .Johannes 
Here/ 1 us . . . together with an explication of some instruments made by Robert 
Hooke. London, Printed by T. R. for John Martyn, Printer to the Royal 
Society, at the Bell in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1674. 

Robert Hooke, a member of the Royal Society, disagreed with Hevelius's assertions in 
his Machinae Coelestis about the relative values of plain and telescopic sights. Hooke 
claimed in his Animadversions that telescopic sights could be made that would be 60 
times more accurate than the plain sights used by Hevelius. The resultant Hooke-Hev- 
elius controversy shook European astronomy for the next decade. To calm the feud 
Edmond Halley undertook a visit to Danzig under the auspices of The Royal Society to 
investigate Hevelius's methods firsthand. 

34. Francesco Barzini, 

Risposta ad vna domanda dell' illvstriss . sig Marchese Clemente Vitelli. 
Firenze: Per Vinceno Vangelisti Stampatore Arciuescouale, 1680. 

This is an extremely rare account of the famous 1680 comet which so interested 
Newton, Halley, and other leading astronomers of Europe. Barzini's letter, dated 
December 12, 1680, is a brief description of the comet's appearance in the sky, 
observed by him for the first time on 20 November. Barzini relates his observations 
made during a three week period and furnishes information on the comet's path, its 
color, etc. 

35. Francesco Giuntini, 1523-1590 

Discotrs svr ce qve menace devoir advenir la comete, apparue a Lyon le 12 de ce 
mois de Nouembre 1577. Paris: Chez Geruais Mallot, 1577. 

This work was written by Francesco Giuntini, a native of Florence who lived most of 
his life in Lyon. Giuntini was a Carmelite friar who wrote several astronomical and 
astrological treatises. This rare pamphlet concerns the great comet of 1577 which was 
also observed by Tycho Brahe and others. Giuntini first observed the comet on 
November 9. The 1577 comet was the focal point of astronomical thought during the 
last quarter of the 16th century and, because of the long period during which it was 
visible, numerous observers communicated and commented on its nature. 



D I 


Con alctine Prarticho 
intorno a quella i 

Etnodo di fore h F'ruri Celeste 
efuoi Dirett'iQ./i > /tcondo h 


D S D I C A T O 
AU'Etnincntifl* e lleiu-rendiflT. 

P R E N C I P E 



In Reissue! Nicole An«c!o Tinafsi.1656 
Cen ItceazA^i Sapertcri • • 

A \\ etc di D ->nicnico Giiaidi Libjaro. 

Title page from Galileo, Trattato delta Sfera di Galileo Galilei. Exhibit Item No. 38. 


36. Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642 

Discorso delle comete di Mario Gvidvcci fatto da Ivi nell accademia Fiorentina 
nel svo medesimo consolato. — In Firenze: Nella stamperia di Pietro 
Cecconcelli, alle stelle medicee, 1619. 

Galileo, the great Italian astronomer, was born in Pisa in 1564. He constructed and 
improved the refracting telescope and used it to observe the moon, the Milky Way, 
Jupiter, Venus, and the Sun. As a result of his astronomical work Galileo was 
appointed Professor for life at the University of Florence. Several times the Pope 
denounced Galileo's views which supported the Copernican system. Galileo later was 
forced to abjure his belief that the sun is the central body around which the earth and 
planets revolve. The volume displayed, although written under the name of Mario 
Guiducci, is authored by Galileo. It is an attack on Orazio Grassi's De Tribi/s Cometh, 
published the same year. (See the next entry for a more complete account of this 

37. Orazio Grassi, 1582-1654 

Libra astronomica, ac philosophica qva Galilaei Galilaei opiniones de comet is a 
Mario Gvidvcio in Fiorentina Academia, expositae, atque in lucern nuper 
editae, examinantur a Lotherio Sarsio [pseud.] Pervsiae: Ex Typographia 
M. Naccarini, 1619. 

This is a rare attack on Galileo which occasioned one of the most celebrated polemics in 
science, Galileo's 11 Saggiatore. The controversy began in 1619, when Grassi published 
his De Tribus Cometis which described the three famous comets of 1618 and discredited 
the Copernican theory. Galileo, through his student Mario Guiducci, criticized 
Grassi's book in his Discorso delle Comete. (See the previous entry) Replying in his Libra 
Astronomica, Grassi, the Jesuit astronomer of the Roman College, directly attacks 
Galileo and his theory of comets. In 1623, Galileo replied with his famous 11 Saggiatore 
in which he set forth a general scientific approach to the investigation of celestial 

38. Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642 

Trattato del la Sfera di Galileo Galilei, con alcune Prat tithe intorno a que I la, e 
modo di fare la Figura Celeste, e suoi Direttioni, secondo la Via Rationale. 
Rome: N.A. Tinassi, 1656. 


fl ,r^"-" •>• — r A*^?- t~f/&** /—J** C*iU^. *•*//,'/ -^ 

^ <wK <«•-* ~^ «?**■ i/i. /**.•— ^ <-7 

c / " v * V * L -. v c 

*" A * ._ *..***"*- 

'_//-.• err'- frYJ • T**'* ""• 

.(i-r u 


Reproduction of one page from Joseph Delambre's manuscript, Elips des Comitei in which Delambre focuses his 
attention on Hailey's Comet. Exhibit Item No. 10. 


The text of this work, one of Galileo's rarest books, comes from one of the few extant 
manuscripts which survived Galileo's years as a professor at Pisa and Padua 
(1589-1610). It was Galileo's custom to prepare a syllabus of his course for his 
students which he made available in manuscript copies. One of these manuscripts was 
found and printed in 1656. The body of the work is a discussion of climatic geography 
and spherical astronomy. It presented standard arguments taken from Ptolemy to show 
that the earth was at rest in the center of the universe. The fact that this treatise was 
written in Italian rather than in Latin indicates that it was intended for private use. The 
Trattato demonstrates that Galileo's support of the Copernican system evolved after his 
professorships at Pisa and Padua. 

39. Willebrordus Snellius, 158 1-1626 

Descriptio cometae: qui anno 1618 mense Novembri primum effulsit. Lvgdvni 

Batavorvm: Ex Offinina Elzeviriana, 1619. 

The comet of November 16 18 to January (or later) 1619 was one of the hotly debated of 
all comets. Kepler, Cysat, and Snell were its most notable observers. This work 
contains Snell's cometary theory in which he demonstrated from the parallax that the 
comet was beyond the moon and therefore could not consist of terrestrial vapors. It 
was, of course, the three comets of 1618-1619 which spurred the famous polemic 
resolved by Galileo in his II Saggiatore ( 1623 >■ 

40. Thomas Erastus, 1524-1583 

De Cometis Dissertat tones Novae Clariss. Basilea: Ex officina Leonardi 
Ostenij, 1580. 

This is the first edition to contain these eight various treatises together in one volume. 
All are concerned with cometary theory in general and the comet of 1577 in particular. 
It was the appearance of this comet which elicited over 100 contemporary publications. 
Erastus, a German-Swiss Zwinglian theologian, physician, and natural philosopher, 
was an inexorable and abusive critic of astrology and argued that comets could appear 
without causing or portending natural or political calamities. His observations sug- 
gested serious flaws in the Aristotelian system. Erastus's dissatisfaction with popular 
misconceptions was most eloquently expounded in the works of Galileo many years 




eppaiiiea Lyon leu. dece mois dc Nouembrc 1577. 
Iaqucllc i'c voir encores a preient. 

Pdr M.Trdnpu Imclinigrdnd ^/Jlrolovue 
& Mdthcmdticicn. 



Chez Geruais Mal!ot,i uc S.Iiqucsal'en- 
fci&nc de l'Aiglc j*Or. 

15 7 7. 

Title page from Francesco Giuntini, Discovrs svr ce qve menace devoir adventr la comete. apparue a Lyon le 12 dece mois de 
Novembre 7577. Exhibit Item No. 35. 


4 1 . Matthias Dannewaldt 

Cometo/ogia: oder Historiscber Discurs. was von vielen Seculis berauff Comet is- 
che Erscbeinungen sicb begeben. Leipzig: Bei Christian Kirchnern, 1664. 

First edition of a very rare scientific work on the comet of 1664. Dannewaldt also 
provides a chronological account of earlier comets since the birth of Christ. 

42. Chnstoph Richter, d. 1680 

Berichtendes Send-Schreiben vom Cometen: So im Christomonat des 1664. 
Christen-Jahres ist erschienen. Leipzig: Mit Ritzschischer Schrifft, 1665. 

Richter, a priest, was a native of Gorlitz, Germany. The astronomical and physical 
reports in this work are quite detailed and contain references to Kepler, Tycho Brahe, 
and Kircher. 

43. Eberhard Christian Kindermann 

Wabre Betracbtungen uber den. in diesernjahre. erscbienenen Cometen: so nob/ 
nacb dessen Ursprung und Bescbaffenbeit. ingleichen. nob in sein Lauff 
gericbtet. und wie lange er sicbtbar sey. als aucb vornehmlich nacb seiner 
Bedeutung. und ob wir Ursacb baben. uns ivr ibm zu furcbten? . . . 
Rudolstadt: Werben der gar vortheilhafften Rudolstadtischen Wansen- 
Hauss-Lotterie, 1744. 

This small pamphlet is a detailed account of the comet which appeared in 1744. The 
attractive plates illustrate the comet as it passes by the earth. 

44. Jean-Dominique Cassini, 1625-1712 

Abrege des Observations & des Reflexions sur la Comete qui a paru au Mois de 
Decembre 1680. & aux Mois de Janvier. Fhrier & Mars de cette annee 1681 . 
Paris, E. Michallet, 1681. 

Jean-Dominique Cassini was the first of a family of astronomers who settled in France. 
He left his native Italy in 1669 to accept a position at the Academie Royale in Paris. 
Although Cassini's work in astronomy is vast, the study of comets continued to hold 
his special interest. In 1664-65, he observed a comet in the presence of Queen 
Christina, Queen of Sweden. Cassini formulated on this occasion a new theory in which 


the orbit of a comet is a great circle whose center is situated in the direction of Sinus. 
The appearance ot the spectacular comet of 1680 led Cassini to confirm the cogency ot 
his method of studying cometary trajectories. It also led to the publication of the work 
exhibited here. Cassini was a gifted observer whose discoveries are sufficient to grant 
him a high position among the astronomers ot the pre-Newtonian generation. 

45. Sir Isaac Newton, 1642-1727 

Phtlosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. Londini: Apud Guil. &Joh. 
Innys, Regiae Societatis typographos, 1726. 

Sir Isaac Newton, the English natural philosopher and mathematician, conceived and 
advanced the hypothesis ot universal gravitation. He deduced this hypothesis trom 
Kepler's third law, which stated that the force between the earth and the moon must be 
inversely proportional to the square ot the distance between them. Newton first 
published his hypothesis ot universal gravitation in his Principia. When Newton was 
writing the Principia, it was Edmond Halley who first recognized the significance of 
Newton's research, contributed editorial aid, and paid tor its publication in 1687. The 
work displayed is the third edition, the last edition published in Newton's lifetime. 
Newton revised this edition, supplied it with a new preface, and inserted a large num- 
ber ot revisions. 


Friends of rhe Brigham Young University Library Newsletter 

Number 27, 1986 

Published by the Friends 

Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah 84602